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Mysterious Mystical Places
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Mysterious Mystical Places
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Mysterious Mystical Places
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Mysterious Mystical Places
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MYSTIC PLACES
  Gateway to the Sun
Tiahuanco, Bolivia
  Nazca Dessert Lines
Peru
  St. George's Church
Ethiopia
  Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Thailand
  Pashupati Nath Temple
Kathmandu, Napal
  Tassili N' ajjer
Algeria
  Terra-Cotta Warriors
Xian, China
  Shrines of two Marys
Zaragoza, Spain
  Mount Sinai
Spain
  Teotihuacan
Mexico
LeMont St. Michel
Normandy, France
Iona Abby
Hebrides, Scotland


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Updated: May 5, 2004


The mystical sites of the world draw people from all over the globe, they are drawn to these sites as a matter of interest, awe, respect, or to worship, or just to simply satisfy their curiosity. They come in droves to see these places, some traveling vast distances, as if drawn their by some unseen magnetism. The forces of mysticism, that invisible yet strong element, is always present in these special places. Past civilizations built these places for various reasons; a vision that told them to construct some building or edifice, as a means of recording and monitoring the seasons, build to the glory of some religion as a place of worship, as a means to carry a group culture and messages to future generations, as a means of recording the history and life of a people, or revered places in nature that have a special mysticism.

Tiahuanaco was the longest-running empire of all the Andean civilizations, but sometime after AD 1,000 it all ended, the empire collapsed, the raised fields were abandoned. Tiahuanaco was a great imperial capital of an immense empire that stretched from Ecuador to northern Chile. The city was settled by 400 B. C. on the Tiahuanaco River, which empties into Lake Titicaca 9.3 miles to the north. Tiahuanaco, located on Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, was a major religious center of the Huari-Tiahuanaco empire. During the Middle Horizon (AD 600-1000), the Huari military organization dominated the Peruvian Andes, and eventually linked up with the formidable priestly apparatus at Tiahuanaco to create a  powerful theocratic state. The symbolic relief carvings on the Gateway of the Sun at Tiahuanaco, often strikingly well-preserved in slabs of volcanic andesite. Nearly 13,000 ft (3,962 m) above sea level, Tiahuanaco was probably the center of a pre-Inca empire and is believed by some to have been built by the Aymara . Much of the construction is unfinished. Building was begun at some time before A.D. 500, and there is evidence of additional construction (c.1100–1300).

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The Nazca lines are geoglyphs and geometric line clearings in the Peruvian desert. They were made by the Nazca people, who flourished between 200 BCE and 600 CE along rivers and streams that flow from the Andes. The desert itself runs for over 1,400 miles along the Pacific Ocean. The area of the Nazca art is called the Pampa Colorada (Red Plain). The Nazca Desert is a high plateau is 15 miles wide and runs some 37 miles parallel to the Andes and the sea, some 250 miles south of Lima. At some time before 1000 BCE, the Nazca Valley was inhabited by a people who developed advanced farming methods that allowed them to build an irrigation system, improve their crops, and expand the area of land they could farm. Over the next 1,500 years, they also developed outstanding skills in weaving, pottery, and architecture. Dark red surface stones and soil have been cleared away, exposing the lighter-colored subsoil, creating the "lines". Some of the forms, including images of humans, giant lizards, spiders, monkeys, llamas, dogs, hummingbirds, etc., as well as the zigzagging and crisscrossing lines and geometric designs that grace the desert floor and steep hillsides at the edge of the desert. The Nazca lines are communal, their creation took hundreds of years and required a large number of people working on the project. The Nazca probably used grids for their giant geoglyphs, as their weavers did for their elaborate designs and patterns. The most difficult part of the project would have been moving all the stones and earth to reveal the lighter subsoil as stones (not sand) comprise the desert surface.

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Formerly known as Roha, Lalibela now bears the name of King Lalibela (1181-1221), a member of the Zagwe Dynasty. King Lalibela's legacy to Ethiopia was eleven rock-hewn churches, Madhané Alam, Maryam, Denagel, Sellasé, Golgotha, Mika’él, Amanu’él, Marquréwos, Abba Libanos, Gabr’él-Rufa’él, and Bet Giyorgis. Lalibela was buried in Golgotha (Pankhurst 49-52). Standing on a three-tiered plinth, St Georges is shaped like a Greek cross and has walls with an alternation of projecting and recessing horizontal layers. Legend has it that when King Lalibela had almost completed his tenth church, Ethiopia's national saint - St George - rode up to him in complete armour on his white horse and reproached Lalibela for not building a church for him. Lalibela thereupon promised the saint the most beautiful church . The cruciform-shaped Bete Giorgis interior is dominated by depictions of Saint George killing the dragon.

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Wat Phra Kaeo, officially called Wat Phra Si Rattanasatsadaram generally known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, adjoining the Grand Palace on the same ground, was completed and consecrated in 1784, the year of the founding of Bangkok, two years later after King Rama I had ascended the throne.  The 945,000 square-metre compound encompasses over 100 buildings that represent 200 years of royal history and architectural experimentation. Most of the architecture is of Bangkok or Rattanakosin style. Wat Phra Kaeo is regarded as the most significant of all Thai temples, and the small green-jade statue of the Buddha, high on its golden altar in the Chapel Royal, is the most sacred image in Thailand. The Emerald Buddha was first discovered at Wat Phra Kaeo in Chiang Rai province in the year 1434, when a bolt of lightning struck a pagoda, revealing a small and seemingly insignificant stucco Buddha image. After many years, the plaster began to crumble away, revealing the beautiful green jade image beneath, several miracles occured, giving the Buddha a reputation for bringing good fortune.

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Nepal is a very spiritual country where Hinduism and Buddhism have become intermingled. The major towns of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan were once separate competing city-states ruled by Malla kings. Most of the finest buildings in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal were the work of builders and artists of the Newar culture. The temple of Lord Pashupatinath , dedicated to lord Shiva, stands along the right bank of Bagmati river, about 5 kms north-east of Kathmandu. Pashupathinath is the guardian spirit and the holiest of all Shiva shrines in Nepal. Lord Shiva is known by many different names; and Pashupati is one.  Pashu means leaving beings, and Pati means master.  In other words Pashupati is the master of all living beings of the universe. The temple was built by Supus Padeva, a Linchchhavi King, who ruled 464-505 AD. and was reconsturcted by a mediaeval King named Shivadeva (1099-1126 AD). Badly destroyed by Sultan Samsuddin of Bengal in the mid 14th Century. After ten years, in 1360 AD. the temple was reconstructed and renovated by Javasimha Ramvardhana.  Another renovation was made by Jyoti Malla in 1416 AD.

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The Tassili-n-Ajjer in Algeria is one of the most famous North African sites of thirty thousand mountainous rock paintings and engravings. Populated from the time of human origins, the Sahara at one period was fairly moist, teeming with life that stands in stark contrast to the arid desert the region has since become. Tassili paintings and engravings depicting wild animals whose antiquity goes back well before 4500 B.C.; a so-called bovidian tradition, which corresponds to the arrival of cattle in North Africa between 4500 and 4000 B.C.; a "horse" tradition, which corresponds to the appearance of horses in the North African archaeological record from about 2000 B.C. onward; and a "camel" tradition, which emerges around the time of Christ when these animals first appear in North Africa. Engravings of animals such as the extinct giant buffalo are among the earliest works, followed later by paintings in which color is used to depict humans and animals with striking naturalism. In the last period, chariots, shields, and camels appear in the rock paintings.

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The Qin Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses in China were buried 2,200 years ago in underground vaults. Their purpose was to guard the nearby tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the emperor who first united China (3rd century BC). The awe-inspiring vaults are now a museum. The main vault houses 8,000 plus life-size terra cotta warriors armed and neatly arrayed in battle formation and 40,000 figurines in the tomb of the later Emperor Jingdi and Empress Wang 157-141 B.C.),Originally, they were colorfully painted. Each warrior bears a unique facial expression, suggesting that live models were used. The underground combat-ready soldiers are accompanied by full-size sculpted horses, chariots and more. Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, had work begun on his mausoleum. It took 11 years to finish. these artifacts were associated with the Qin Dynasty (211 --206 BC). Terra Cotta Pit No. 1 is oblong: 230 meters east to west, and 62 meters north to south. At a depth of five meters, it is cavern-like and constructed from earth and wood. Qin's terracotta army consists of life-size figures of warriors, depicted in battle dress according to rank an unit, and numerous figures of horses and chariots, and this is only part of what is believed to be his grand tomb. But once the warriors saw the light of day, after more than 2,200 years of burial, their paint disappeared, sometimes within minutes of exposure.

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Zaragoza (formerly Saragossa in English; Latin Caesaraugusta) is the capital city of the autonomous region and former kingdom of Aragon in Spain, and is located on the river Ebro, and its tributaries the Huerva and Gállego, near the centre of the region, in a great valley with a variety of landscapes, ranging from desert (Los Monegros) to thick forest, meadows and mountains. Two places of sacred significance can be found within the city, the small shrine of Mary Magdalene and the great Catedral Nuestra Senora del Pilar, as shown, is one of Spain’s greatest and most revered religious building. It takes its name from a pillar- the centrepiece of the church- on which the Virgin is said to have descended from heaven in an apparition before St James the Apostle. The structure around this shrine is truly monumental, with great corner towers and a central dome surrounded by ten brightly tiled cupolas; it was designed in the late seventeenth century by Francisco Herrera el Mozo and built by Ventura Rodriguez in the 1750s and 1760s. The pillar, topped by a diminutive image of the Virgin, is constantly surrounded by pilgrims, who line up to touch an exposed (and thoroughly worn) section, encased in a marble surround. The main artistic treasure of the cathedral is a magnificent alabaster reredos on the high altar, a masterpiece sculpted by Damian Forment in the first decades of the sixteenth century.. This basilica is dedicated to the Virgin of the Pillar, the patron of all Spain.

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Mount Sinai, also known as "Gebel Musa" or "Jabal Musa" (= "Moses's Mountain") by the Bedouins, is the name of a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula. It is 2,285 metres high and is in a mountain range in the southern part of the peninsula. It is near a protruding lower bluff known as Ras Sasafeh (Sufsafeh), and rises almost perpendicularly from the plain. The Monastery of St. Catherine is sited at the foot of the mountain, at an elevation of around 1,200m. There are two principal routes to the summit, only one of which may be ascended at night. By the longer and less steep track it is possible to ascend either on foot or by camel hired from the Bedouin along the way - approximate time on foot two and a half hours. The steep, more direct route ascends the 3,750 "steps of penitence" directly up the ravine behind the monastery and may not be ascended by night. The summit of the mountain has a mosque and a [Greek Orthodox]] chapel, neither of which are open to the public. At the summit also is "Moses' cave" where Moses is supposed to have waited to receive the Ten Commandments.

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Teotihuacán was a large settlement by 150BC, its importance probably arising from a cave system with religious significance, located underneath the present day Pyramid of the Sun. As other settlements in the area diminished, Teotihuacán flourished and became a religious and economic center, controlling the region’s production of obsidian (the black stone used to make weapons and utensils). Between 1AD and 250AD the ceremonial core was completed, including the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon and the Calle de los Muertos. The massive pyramid structures were painted red and must have been an awe-inspiring sight. Trading relationships were established with Monte Albán in Oaxaca and the gulf coast - there is little evidence of any hostility during the years of prosperity. (You will not see any depictions of warfare or human sacrifice in the carvings and murals at Teotihuacán, unlike many contemporary cities in Mexico). Major expansion in population and housing occurred between 250-450AD. As many as 200,000 inhabitants have been estimated and at least 2000 "houses" counted. Most of these buildings were home to large family groups or artisan communes. There were even delegations from other cities - a group of craftsmen from Monte Albán is known to have shared a workshop here. The prosperity continued to 650AD and around this time it was the sixth largest city in the world. In 400AD, with around 200,000 inhabitants Teotihuacán was the sixth largest city in the world - 300 years later it was found virtually abandoned However, in 650AD, a great fire swept through the city, devastating many communities. For some unknown reason a swift decline ensued and there was no massive reconstruction exercise. Several theories prevail - invasion from a rival city taking advantage of temporary weakness, or a culmination of the erosion of natural resources by over-exploitation. Whatever the cause, the population soon moved to other growing cities and Teotihuacán was virtually deserted. By the time the Aztecs arrived on the scene, the area was little more than an ancient ruin. To the Aztecs, Teotihuacán was a holy place, where the sun, moon and universe were created. It was they who gave Teotihuacán its name, meaning "The place where men become gods".

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Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Michael, Mont-Saint-Michael, dates to c.709, when legend has the Archangel Michael appearing before, and directing bishop Aubert of Avranches to build a shrine on an islet called 'Mount Tombe'. This islet lies at the southern most point off the Normandy coastline, just before Brittany to the west. This is the base of a Bay of Mont Saint-Michel that opens into La Manche [channel waterway between England and Northern France]. The islet consists of a nearly 80 meters high rock with a circumference of about .8 km. It is connected to the mainland by a very narrow and long causeway. Bishop Aubert had an oratory constructed on the top of the rock. A monastery was started in 1017, with stones hauled at low tide from the mainland in Brittany. Blanche of Castile, regent of France, ordered the gothic cloister in 1211 added to the earlier Carolingian abbey. In 966, monks of the Benedictine order under abbot Maynard replaced the previous monks. They encouraged the cult of Saint Michael and received pilgrams. By the time of William the Conqueror, the abbey benefited from many noble protectors. The abbot Robert de Thorigny administered the abbey at its peak of fortune. The shrine has seen is number of miracles and fostered many legends. Site of early medieval religious feasts and ceremonies. Mont Saint-Michel was besieged and taken as part of Philippe Auguste's conquest of Normandy from the Plantangenets in 1214.

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Iona is an ancient Gaelic word meaning Isle of Saints. Geographically, Iona is a small island, only 3 miles long, located off the western coast of Scotland. Historically, Iona is the place from which St. Columba landed on in 563 AD along with his twelve companions and remained his home for the rest of his life. During his life, he introduced Christianity to the Celts and Brits of Scotland. One of Scotland's most historic and venerated sites, lona Abbey is a celebrated Christian centre and the burial place of early Scottish kings. The Abbey and Nunnery grounds house one of the most comprehensive collections of Christian carved stones in Scotland, ranging in age from 600AD to the 1600s. In AD 563 Columba and his twelve disciples landed at Port na Curaich (Harbour of the Coracle) to build a monastery and establish a school of learning, having travelled in a hide-covered craft from Ireland. They introduced a faith which was to spread far beyond Mull and indeed Scotland itself. Initially enjoying over 200 years of tranquility, Iona was attacked by raiding Norsemen in 795, 801, 806, 825 and 986. Rebuilt in 1074 Iona became a cathedral in 1500.

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